BP ruled "grossly negligent" over spill
A US judge has ruled BP was "grossly negligent" in the lead-up to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The BBC reports that New Orleans judge Carl Barbier also found BP subcontractors Transocean and Halliburton "negligent".
BP had set aside $43bn (£26bn) to cover fines, legal settlements, and clean-up costs but the ruling could potentially cost BP billions more in compensation payments.
The ruling could quadruple the civil penalties that BP must pay as a result of the spill to an estimated $18bn.
Under the US Clean Water Act, a ruling of negligence would have meant BP was liable to pay $1,100 per barrel of oil spilled; gross negligence increases the penalty to $4,300 per barrel.
A date to determine the total number of barrels of oil that were spilled in 2010 as well as a final civil penalty has not yet been announced.
According to the BBC the US government experts have estimated a total of 4.2 million barrels spilled into the Gulf; BP has said the figure is closer to 2.45 million.
BP said in a statement that it "strongly disagrees" with the ruling and that it would appeal to a higher court.
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